JUNE 11, 2018 BY 

Article adapted from Steamboat Pilot & Today

My husband, young daughter and I live in Stagecoach, a 23-mile drive to Steamboat Springs. We commute together and, the other day, my husband needed the car for work, so I walked the Yampa River Core Trail for a mile from his office to mine. On my short walk, I observed all of the things I love about our valley. The beautiful flowers blooming, green trees leafing, sun shining, birds singing and the Yampa River flowing steadily. I was reminded of how lucky I am to live here and the importance of preserving these special aspects of our community for my daughter and for future generations.

All of Yampa Valley Sustainability Council’s programs are focused on preserving what we love about our valley and taking action to fight climate change locally. Transportation is the largest source of carbon emissions in the U.S. And, in many cities and towns, personal automobiles are the single greatest polluter. That is why YVSC is bringing back the Commuter Challenge from as part of our 2018 Climate Action campaign.

The Commuter Challenge is a friendly competition from running through  June 27 to encourage community members to leave the car at home and use alternative transportation, even if it’s just one day per week. Small changes to your transportation routine can make a big difference. By choosing to take the bus, ride your bike, walk or carpool, you can reduce your greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 4,800 pounds of carbon emissions annually (assuming a 20-mile roundtrip commute).

People of all ages are encouraged to join YVSC in celebrating active lifestyles and sustainable transportation and reducing our community’s collective carbon footprint — by signing up for the Commuter Challenge. Categories consist of a family teams, adult teams and solo riders.

Participants log their car-free miles and trips weekly and compete to win prizes, such as BAP fleeces, Ski Haus gift cards, Steamboat Magazine subscriptions and Smartwool socks.

There will also be events throughout the month where you can earn points as a solo rider or for your team, including YVSC’s Green Drinks and Sustainable Business Tour at Mountain Tap Brewery, the Ski Haus Pancake Breakfast in honor of Bike to Work Day, and the Commuter Challenge Celebration and Awards.

The more events you attend, the more points you can earn, and points will be taken into consideration when calculating winning teams and individuals at the end of the challenge. For more information and to sign up to green your commute visit yvsc.org.

If you want to go beyond your commute to reduce your carbon footprint, consider signing YVSC’s Climate Action Pledge. By committing to just two small actions, such as avoiding single-use plastics, improving the energy efficiency of your home with a free energy assessment, eating local food or recycling, you can be part of the local climate solution. Go to yvsc.org/climateaction to learn more and take the pledge online.

Jaiya Ellis is the program director for Yampa Valley Sustainability Council.